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Apple Now Second in Customer Satisfaction

Paul Ausick

A new smartphone brand study could be the harbinger of a new world order. Two smartphones made by Samsung Electronics were the top U.S. scorers, ahead of various iPhone models from Apple Inc. (AAPL). To keep Samsung from getting too complacent, however, Korean customers prefer Apple’s phones.

The survey, conducted by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI), reported that the Galaxy S III and the Galaxy Note II from Samsung were the top scoring phones, followed by three iPhone models. Two Motorola phones from Google Inc. (GOOG), two phones from BlackBerry Ltd. (BBRY) and one more Samsung phone round out the top ten. The Samsung Galaxy S4 was released too late to be included in the survey.

An ASCI executive summed it up:

Not only does Samsung edge ahead of all iPhones, Apple customers themselves don’t see much difference between the iPhone 4, 4S or 5. The latest earnings report from Apple was better than expected, but the name of the game for Apple has always been innovation. Samsung, on the other hand, shows a strong upward ACSI trend from the Galaxy S II to the Galaxy S III. If the S4 performs as well -- or even better -- in the eyes of customers, Samsung could threaten Apple’s dominance in overall customer satisfaction.

No difference between iPhone 4, 4S and 5? An iPhone 5S is unlikely to turn that around. Customers apparently expect Apple to create something brand new every time it releases a product. Expectations have been set very high, and no company, not even Apple can deliver. That does not bode well for Apple’s share price because another blockbuster product like the iPhone is not on the horizon, unless you count an iWatch or another iteration of Apple TV, neither of which will be unique when they hit the market.

For BlackBerry, the news is even worse. According to ASCI, “the company stays firmly entrenched at the bottom of the industry in customer satisfaction” for its smartphones. The company’s newest smartphones, the Z10 and the Q10, did not make the list, either because they were released too late or because they did not impress customers.

In overall satisfaction, Apple still leads Samsung because Apple produces only smartphones, while the Korean company also makes feature phones that do not stack up well when compared to smartphones. Apple’s overall score was 81, compared with 76 for Samsung.